Livability student Jenson wowed the crowds when he completed a solo walk at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival – but for mum Emily, the joy of connecting with others was as significant as witnessing her son’s physical achievement.
Four-year-old Jenson, whose efforts have raised £1,000+ for Livability Victoria Education Centre (VEC), smashed the Kids’ Kilometre at Bournemouth Pier, walking independently as supporters cheered and high-fived him. Jenson, who has a chromosome disorder with resulting physical and intellectual disabilities, has been walking for around ten months. Funds raised will buy equipment and support a project in the early years play area.
‘This event made a big difference not only to Jenson but to myself and my husband,’ says mum Emily. ‘You can feel you’re isolated socially from the regular activities that other children from the same age take part in and it was a fantastic opportunity to do something mainstream and see Jenson thrive. Although he did it in his own way and at his own pace, it was fantastic for us to be part of it as a family and for him to be in that inclusive scenario with other children. He completed the route with a huge smile on his face and loved every minute!’
As well as Jenson’s enthusiasm and his family’s support, Emily credits Livability VEC for enabling Jenson to take part. ‘Jenson’s been at VEC since he was three and VEC is absolutely fantastic, we couldn’t be more pleased with how Jenson is doing. Each child gets so much positive encouragement when they achieve something special for them that they are motivated to try for the next goal – it’s like an avalanche effect. Therapy is so expert and well- integrated into play, the children don’t actually realise anything medical is going on.’
For Jenson, learning to connect with others in the classroom has been an exciting part of life at Livability VEC. ‘When Jenson first started, he wasn’t so good with other children and preferred the adults,’ says Emily. ‘I think VEC’s holistic, inclusive approach has brought him on and he now ‘signs’ the word ‘friends’ when he gets on the school bus and signs ‘friends’ again when he comes home.’
For the Jenson’s family, the day was one to remember: ‘I called it “Jenson’s Krazy Kilometre” and it was a significant milestone for Jenson and for us,’ says Emily.